Daniel 2:36
This is the dream; and we will tell the interpretation thereof before the king.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(36) Wei.e., Daniel and his three friends, for to their intercession (Daniel 2:17-18) the revelation was due.

Daniel

THE IMAGE AND THE STONE

Daniel 2:36 - Daniel 2:49
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The colossal image, seen by Nebuchadnezzar in his dream, was a reproduction of those which met his waking eyes, and still remain for our wonder in our museums. The mingled materials are paralleled in ancient art. The substance of the dream is no less natural than its form. The one is suggested by familiar sights; the other, by pressing anxieties. What more likely than that, ‘in the second year of his reign’ {Daniel 2:1}, waking thoughts of the future of his monarchy should trouble the warrior-king, scarcely yet firm on his throne, and should repeat themselves in nightly visions? God spoke through the dream, and He is not wont to answer questions before they are asked, nor to give revelations to men on points which they have not sought to solve. We may be sure that Nebuchadnezzar’s dream met his need.

The unreasonable demand that the ‘Chaldeans’ should show the dream as well as interpret it, fits the character of the king, as an imperious despot, intolerant of obstacles to his will, and holding human life very cheap. Daniel’s knowledge of the dream and of its meaning is given to him in a vision by night, which is the method of divine illumination throughout the book, and may be regarded as a lower stage thereof than the communications to prophets of ‘the word of the Lord.’

The passage falls into two parts: the image and the stone.

I. The Image.

It was a human form of strangely mingled materials, of giant size no doubt, and of majestic aspect. Barbarous enough it would have looked beside the marble lovelinesses of Greece, but it was quite like the coarser art which sought for impressiveness through size and costliness. Other people than Babylonian sculptors think that bigness is greatness, and dearness preciousness.

This image embodied what is now called a philosophy of history. It set forth the fruitful idea of a succession and unity in the rise and fall of conquerors and kingdoms. The four empires represented by it are diverse, and yet parts of a whole, and each following on the other. So the truth is taught that history is an organic whole, however unrelated its events may appear to a superficial eye. The writer of this book had learned lessons far in advance of his age, and not yet fully grasped by many so-called historians.

But, further, the human figure of the image sets forth all these kingdoms as being purely the work of men. Not that the overruling divine providence is ignored, but that the play of human passions, the lust of conquest and the like, and the use of human means, such as armies, are emphasised.

Again, the kingdoms are seen in their brilliancy, as they would naturally appear to the thoughts of a conqueror, whose highest notion of glory was earthly dominion, and who was indifferent to the suffering and blood through which he waded to a throne. When the same kingdoms are shown to Daniel in Daniel 7:1 - Daniel 7:28 they are represented by beasts. Their cruelty and the destruction of life which they caused were uppermost in a prophet’s view; their vulgar splendour dazzled a king’s sleeping eyes, because it had intoxicated his waking thoughts. Much worldly glory and many of its aims appear as precious metal to dreamers, but are seen by an illuminated sight to be bestial and destructive.

Once more there is a steady process of deterioration in the four kingdoms. Gold is followed by silver, and that by brass, and that by the strange combination of iron and clay. This may simply refer to the diminution of worldly glory, but it may also mean deterioration, morally and otherwise. Is it not the teaching of Scripture that, unless God interpose, society will steadily slide downwards? And has not the fact been so, wherever the brake and lever of revelation have not arrested the decline and effected elevation? We are told nowadays of evolution, as if the progress of humanity were upwards; but if you withdraw the influence of supernatural revelation, the evidence of power in manhood to work itself clear of limitations and lower forms is very ambiguous at the best-in reference to morals, at all events. Evil is capable of development, as well as good; and perhaps Nebuchadnezzar’s colossus is a truer representation of the course of humanity than the dreams of modern thinkers who see manhood becoming steadily better by its own effort, and think that the clay and iron have inherent power to pass into fine gold.

The question of the identification of these successive monarchies does not fall to be discussed here. But I may observe that the definite statement of Daniel 2:44 {‘in the days of these kings’} seems to date the rise of the everlasting kingdom of God in the period of the last of the four, and therefore that the old interpretation of the fourth kingdom as the Roman seems the most natural. The force of that remark may, no doubt, be weakened by the consideration that the Old Testament prophets’ perspective of the future brought the coming of Messiah into immediate juxtaposition with the limits of their own vision; but still it has force.

The allocation of each part of the symbol is of less importance for us than the lessons to be drawn from it as a whole. But the singular amalgam of iron and clay in the fourth kingdom is worth notice. No sculptor or metallurgist could make a strong unity out of such materials, of which the combination could only be apparent and superficial. The fact to which it points is the artificial unity into which the great conquering empires of old crushed their unfortunate subject peoples, who were hammered, not fused, together. ‘They shall mingle themselves with the seed of men’ {Daniel 2:43}, may either refer to the attempts to bring about unity by marriages among different races, or to other vain efforts to the same end. To obliterate nationalities has always been the conquering despot’s effort, from Nebuchadnezzar to the Czar of Russia, and it always fails. This is the weakness of these huge empires of antiquity, which have no internal cohesion, and tumble to pieces as soon as some external bond is loosened. There is only one kingdom which has no disintegrating forces lodged in it, because it unites men individually to its king, and so binds them to one another; and that is the kingdom which Nebuchadnezzar saw in its destructive aspect.

II. So we have now to think of the stone cut out without hands.

Three things are specified with regard to it: its origin, its duration, and its destructive energy. The origin is heavenly, in sharp contrast to the human origin of the kingdoms symbolised in the colossal man. That idea is twice expressed: once in plain words, ‘the God of heaven shall set up a kingdom’; and once figuratively as being cut out of the mountain without hands. By the mountain we are probably to understand Zion, from which, according to many a prophecy, the Messiah King was to rule the earth {Psalm 2:1 - Psalm 2:12; Isaiah 2:3}.

The fulfilment of this prediction is found, not only in the supernatural birth of Jesus Christ, but in the spread of the gospel without any of the weapons and aids of human power. Twelve poor men spoke, and the world was shaken and the kingdoms remoulded. The seer had learned the omnipotence of ideas and the weakness of outward force. A thought from God is stronger than all armies, and outconquers conquerors. By the mystery of Christ’s Incarnation, by the power of weakness in the preachers of the Cross, by the energies of the transforming Spirit, the God of heaven has set up the kingdom. ‘It shall never be destroyed.’ Its divine origin guarantees its perpetual duration. The kingdoms of man’s founding, whether they be in the realm of thought or of outward dominion, ‘have their day, and cease to be,’ but the kingdom of Christ lasts as long as the eternal life of its King. He cannot die any more, and He cannot live discrowned. Other forms of human association perish, as new conditions come into play which antiquate them; but the kingdom of Jesus is as flexible as it is firm, and has power to adapt to itself all conditions in which men can live. It will outlast earth, it will fill eternity; for when He ‘shall have delivered up the kingdom to His Father,’ the kingdom, which the God of heaven set up, will still continue.

It ‘shall not be left to other people.’ By that, seems to be meant that this kingdom will not be like those of human origin, in which dominion passes from one race to another, but that Israel shall ever be the happy subjects and the dominant race. We must interpret the words of the spiritual Israel, and remember how to be Christ’s subject is to belong to a nation who are kings and priests.

The destructive power is graphically represented. The stone, detached from the mountain, and apparently self-moved, dashes against the heterogeneous mass of iron and clay on which the colossus insecurely stands, and down it comes with a crash, breaking into a thousand fragments as it falls. ‘Like the chaff of the summer threshingfloors’ {Daniel 2:35} is the débris, which is whirled out of sight by the wind. Christ and His kingdom have reshaped the world. These ancient, hideous kingdoms of blood and misery are impossible now. Christ and His gospel shattered the Roman empire, and cast Europe into another mould. They have destructive work to do yet, and as surely as the sun rises daily, will do it. The things that can be shaken will be shaken till they fall, and human society will never obtain its stable form till it is moulded throughout after the pattern of the kingdom of Christ.

The vision of our passage has no reference to the quickening power of the kingdom; but the best way in which it destroys is by transformation. It slays the old and lower forms of society by substituting the purer which flow from possession of the one Spirit. That highest glory of the work of Christ is but partially represented here, but there is a hint in Daniel 2:35, which tells that the stone has a strange vitality, and can grow, and does grow, till it becomes an earth-filling mountain.

That issue is not reached yet; but ‘the dream is certain.’ The kingdom is concentrated in its King, and the life of Jesus, diffused through His servants, works to the increase of the empire, and will not cease till the kingdoms of the world are the kingdoms of our God and of His Christ. That stone has vital power, and if we build on it we receive, by wonderful impartation, a kindred derived life, and become ‘living stones.’ It is laid for a sure foundation. If a man stumble over it while it lies there to be built upon, he will lame and maim himself. But it will one day have motion given to it, and, falling from the height of heaven, when He comes to judge the world which He rules and has redeemed, it will grind to powder all who reject the rule of the everlasting King of men.Daniel 2:36-38. This is the dream, and we will tell the interpretation — Here again Daniel shows his modesty, allowing his friends a share in the honour of interpreting the dream, because the interpretation was obtained by their joint prayers to God. Thou, O king, art a king of kings — So Nebuchadnezzar is styled Ezekiel 26:7, because he had divers kings for his vassals and tributaries. And Daniel here addresses him as if he were a very powerful king, and his empire very large and extensive. For the God of heaven hath given thee a kingdom, &c. — The monarch might perhaps think, like some of his predecessors, that his conquests were owing to his fortitude and prudence: see Isaiah 10:13. But the prophet assures him, that his success must be primarily imputed to the God of heaven. Though most of the ancient eastern histories are lost, yet some fragments remain which speak of this mighty conqueror, and his extended empire. Berosus informs us, that he held in subjection Egypt, Syria, Phenicia, Arabia, and surpassed all the Chaldeans and Babylonians who reigned before him. Josephus, Philostratus, Megasthenes, and Strabo, assert, that he surpassed even Hercules, proceeded as far as Hercules’ pillars, subdued Spain, and led his army into Thrace and Pontus. But his empire was of no long duration, for it ended in his grandson Belshazzar, not seventy years after the delivery of this prophecy, nor above twenty-three years after the death of Nebuchadnezzar; which may be the reason why Daniel speaks of him as the only king, the rest being to be considered as nothing; nor do we read of any thing good or great performed by them. — Bishop Newton: see notes on Jeremiah 25:9; Jeremiah 25:11; Jeremiah 25:15-26; Jeremiah 27:6-8. And wheresoever the children of men dwell, hath he made thee ruler over them all — The great monarchies assumed to themselves the title of being lords of the world; see Daniel 6:25; Daniel 8:5; so the word οικουμενη, the world, commonly signifies the Roman empire, in the New Testament. Thou art this head of gold — Thou and thy family and thy representatives. The Babylonian therefore was the first of these kingdoms, and it was fitly represented by the head of fine gold, on account of its great riches, and the splendour and glory of its capital city, Babylon, which for the same reason was called the golden city, Isaiah 14:4, a golden cup, Jeremiah 51:7, and the lady of kingdoms, Isaiah 47:5; Isaiah 47:7, where see the notes. The Assyrian is usually said to be the first of the four great empires, and the name may be allowed to pass, if it be not taken too strictly: for the Assyrian empire, properly so called, was dissolved before this time, and the Babylonian was erected in its stead; but the Babylonians are sometimes called Assyrians in the best classic authors, as well as in the Holy Scriptures. — Bishop Newton.2:31-45 This image represented the kingdoms of the earth, that should successively rule the nations, and influence the affairs of the Jewish church. 1. The head of gold signified the Chaldean empire, then in being. 2. The breast and arms of silver signified the empire of the Medes and Persians. 3. The belly and thighs of brass signified the Grecian empire, founded by Alexander. 4. The legs and feet of iron signified the Roman empire. The Roman empire branched into ten kingdoms, as the toes of these feet. Some were weak as clay, others strong as iron. Endeavours have often been used to unite them, for strengthening the empire, but in vain. The stone cut out without hands, represented the kingdom of our Lord Jesus Christ, which should be set up in the kingdoms of the world, upon the ruins of Satan's kingdom in them. This was the Stone which the builders refused, because it was not cut out by their hands, but it is become the head stone of the corner. Of the increase of Christ's government and peace there shall be no end. The Lord shall reign, not only to the end of time, but when time and days shall be no more. As far as events have gone, the fulfilling this prophetic vision has been most exact and undeniable; future ages shall witness this Stone destroying the image, and filling the whole earth.This is the dream; and we will tell the interpretation thereof before the king - Daniel here speaks in his own name, and in the name of his companions. Hence, he says, "we will tell the interpretation." It was in answer to their united supplications Daniel 2:18, that this meaning of the vision had been made known to him; and it would not only have been a violation of the rules of modesty, but an unjust assumption, if Daniel had claimed the whole credit of the revelation to himself. Though he was the only one who addressed the king, yet he seems to have desired that it might be understood that he was not alone in the honor which God had conferred, and that he wished that his companions should be had in just remembrance. Compare Daniel 2:49. 36. we—Daniel and his three friends. By this word we appears Daniel’s piety and modesty, for he declares by it that he and his companions had begged this skill from God, and therefore he did not and could not arrogate it to himself, excluding them, without injury and dishonour to God that heard prayer. Now begins the interpretation. This is the dream,.... Which Nebuchadnezzar dreamed, but had forgot, and was now punctually and exactly made known to him; for the truth of which he is appealed unto; for, no doubt, by this account, the whole of his dream, and every circumstance of it, were brought to his mind:

and we will tell the interpretation thereof before the king; for though both the dream, and the interpretation of it, were only revealed to Daniel; yet he joins his companions with him, partly because they were now present, and chiefly because they were assisting to him in prayer for it.

This is the dream; and we will tell the interpretation thereof before the king.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
36–45. The interpretation of the dream. The four parts of the image signify four kingdoms,—the first being represented by its present and greatest ruler, Nebuchadnezzar.Verse 36. - This is the dream; and we will tell the interpretation thereof before the king. The various versions agree closely with the Massoretic text. It is scarcely a variation when the Septuagint has ἐπὶ, "to," instead of ἐνώπιον, "before," that is to say, לְ instead of קְדָם (qedam). Jerome must have read קָדָמָך, (qadamak), "before thee," as he renders coram te, rex; but that also is unimportant. Having finished telling Nebuchadnezzar his dream, Daniel now announces his intention of giving the interpretation. Commentators have noticed the fact that Daniel does not say, "I will give," but "we." The opinion of Professor Fuller is that Daniel here includes with himself his three companions; of Keil, Kranichfeld, Zockler, and Behrmann, that he identifies himself with all worshippers of Jehovah; Aben Ezra makes the plurality by making him refer to himself and the Divine wisdom; Jephet-ibn-Ali makes its force lie in contrast; Hitzig makes it really the pluralis excellintiae, and quotes in defence Genesis 1:26 and Genesis 11:7, where it is God himself that speaks. Had Daniel introduced the phrase, "thus saith the Lord," this opinion might have been defended. It may be that Daniel fell back on the methods and ordinary mode of address for an astrologer before the King of Babylon (see ver 7). He does not wait for the king to acknowledge that this is the dream he had. Daniel at once pro-coeds with the interpretation. The Sacrificial Kitchens for the Priests and for the People

Ezekiel 46:19. And he brought me up the entrance by the shoulder of the gate to the holy cells for the priests, which looked to the north; and behold there was a place on the outermost side toward the west. Ezekiel 46:20. And he said to me, This is the place where the priests boil the trespass-offering and the sin-offering, where they bake the meat-offering that they may not need to carry it out into the outer court, to sanctify the people. Ezekiel 46:21. And he led me out into the outer court, and caused me to pass by the four corners of the court; and behold, in every corner of the court there was again a court. Ezekiel 46:22. In the four corners of the court were closed courts of forty cubits in length and thirty cubits in breadth; all four corner spaces had one measure. Ezekiel 46:23. And a row of stands was round about therein in all four, and boiling hearths were under the rows made round about. Ezekiel 46:24. And he said to me, These are the kitchen-house, where the servants of the house boil the slain-offering of the people. - In the list and description of the subordinate buildings of the temple, the sacrificial kitchens are passed over; and they are therefore referred to here again in a supplementary manner. Ewald has shifted Ezekiel 46:19-24, and placed them after Ezekiel 42:14, which would certainly have been the most suitable place for mentioning the sacrificial kitchens for the priests. But it is evident that they stood here originally, and not there; not only from the fact that in Ezekiel 46:19 the passage to the holy cells (Ezekiel 42:1.) is circumstantially described, which would have been unnecessary if the description of the kitchens had originally followed immediately after Ezekiel 42:14, as Ezekiel was then standing by the cells; but also, and still more clearly, from the words that serve as an introduction to what follows, "he led me back to the door of the house" (Ezekiel 47:1), which are unintelligible unless he had changed his standing-place between Ezekiel 46:18 and Ezekiel 47:1, as is related in Ezekiel 46:19 and Ezekiel 46:21, since Ezekiel had received the sacrificial thorah (Ezekiel 44:5-46:18) in front of the house (Ezekiel 44:4). If Ezekiel 46:19-24 had originally stood elsewhere, so that Ezekiel 47:1 was immediately connected with Ezekiel 46:18, the transition-formula in Ezekiel 47:1 would necessarily have read very differently. - But with this section the right of the preceding one, Ezekiel 46:16-18, which Ewald has arbitrarily interpolated in Ezekiel 45 between Ezekiel 45:8 and Ezekiel 45:9, to hold its present place in the chapter before us as an appendix, is fully vindicated. - The holy cells (Ezekiel 46:19) are those of the northern cell-building (Ezekiel 42:1-10) described in Ezekiel 42:1-14 (see Plate I L). בּמּבוא is the approach or way mentioned in Ezekiel 42:9, which led from the northern inner gate to these cells (see Plate I l); not the place to which Ezekiel was brought (Kliefoth), but the passage along which he was led. The spot to which he was conducted follows in אל (the article before the construct state, as in Ezekiel 43:21, etc.). אל הכּהנים is appended to this in the form of an apposition; and here לשׁכות is to be repeated in thought: to those for the priests. 'הפּנות צ belongs to הלשׁכות. There, i.e., by the cells, was a space set apart at the outermost (hindermost) sides toward the west (Plate I M), for the boiling of the flesh of the trespass-offering and sin-offering, and the baking of the minchah, - that is to say, of those portions of the sacrifices which the priests were to eat in their official capacity (see the comm. on Ezekiel 42:13). For the motive assigned in Ezekiel 46:20 for the provision of special kitchens for this object, see the exposition of Ezekiel 44:19.

In addition to these, kitchens were required for the preparation of the sacrificial meals, which were connected with the offering of the shelamim, and were held by those who presented them. These sacrificial kitchens for the people are treated of in Ezekiel 46:20-24. They were situated in the four corners of the outer court (Plate I N). To show them to the prophet, the angel leads him into the outer court. The holy cells (Ezekiel 46:19) and the sacrificial kitchens for the priests (Ezekiel 46:20) were also situated by the outside wall of the inner court; and for this reason Ezekiel had already been led out of the inner court, where he had received the sacrificial thorah, through the northern gate of the court by the way which led to the holy cells, that he might be shown the sacrificial kitchens. When, therefore, it is stated in Ezekiel 46:21 that "he led me out into the outer court," יוציאני can only be explained on the supposition that the space from the surrounding wall of the inner court to the way which led from the gate porch of that court to the holy cells, and to the passage which continued this way in front of the cells (Plate I l and m), was regarded as an appurtenance of the inner court. In every one of the four corners of the outer court there was a (small) courtyard in the court. The repetition of 'חצר בּמקצע הח has a distributive force. The small courtyards in the four corners of the court were קטרות, i.e., not "uncovered," as this would be unmeaning, since all courts or courtyards were uncovered; nor "contracted" (Bttcher), for קטר has no such meaning; nor "fumum exhalantia," as the Talmudists suppose; nor "bridged over" (Hitzig), which there is also nothing in the language to sustain; but in all probability atria clausa, i.e., muris cincta et janius clausa (Ges. Thes.), from קטר; in Aram. ligavit; in Ethiop. clausit, obseravit januam. The word מהקצעות is marked with puncta extraordinaria by the Masoretes as a suspicious word, and is also omitted in the Septuagint and Vulgate. Bttcher and Hitzig have therefore expunged it as a gloss. But even Hitzig admits that this does not explain how it found its way into the text. The word is a Hophal participle of קצע, in the sense of cornered off, cut off into corners, and is in apposition to the suffix to לארבּעתּם, - literally, one measure wax to all four, the spaces or courtyards cut off in the corners. For this appositional use of the participle, compare 1 Kings 14:6. There is also a difference of opinion as to the meaning of the word טוּר, which only occurs here and in Exodus 28:17. and Ezekiel 39:10, where it signifies "row," and not "enclosure" (Kliefoth). טירות, which follows, is evidently merely the feminine plural, from טוּר, as טירה is also derived from טוּר, in the sense of "to encircle" (see the comm. on Psalm 69:26). Consequently טוּר does not mean a covering or boundary wall, but a row or shelf of brickwork which had several separate shelves, under which the cooking hearths were placed. מבשּׁלות, not kitchens, but cooking hearths; strictly speaking a partic. Piel, things which cause to boil. - בּית המּבשּׁלים - .liob ot e, kitchen house. משׁרתּי הבּית, the temple servants, as distinguished from the servants of Jehovah (Ezekiel 44:15-16), are the Levites (Ezekiel 44:11-12). עשׂוּי is construed as in Ezekiel 40:17 and Ezekiel 41:18-19.

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